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The importance of routine

Having spent months faced with uncertainty and changing restrictions, it is quite likely that any routines you had beforehand may well have gone out the window. To help your child settle back into a childcare setting, re-establishing a routine will be incredibly helpful.

Routines are important because they help a child to know what is coming next and give them confidence because they know what they are doing. Having a structure to a day in place will help them re-establish trust in others and also can help you, as a parent, be more organised.

Quality sleep is extremely important to support healthy childhood development and also help a child regulate their emotions. If bedtimes have fallen by the wayside, then work to try and get them back. It might take a few days, but wake up your child in the morning at the time they will have to get up to go to their childcare setting. When it comes to bedtime, start taking them up a bit earlier each day until you get back to their usual bedtime. Go back to your previous routine, a warm bath followed by reading a story in a calm environment can be really helpful to encourage restful sleep.

Talk to your child/baby as you dress, feed and change them. Say what is coming next and start to establish certain sequences and places, e.g. tea, bath, milk and bed with a story. You can also make routines fun, i.e. tidy up songs, getting dressed songs, ‘This is the way we put on our socks…’ sung to ‘Here we go round the Mulberry bush’.

Routines are important, but it is also important, especially at this time of heightened emotions, to be flexible. If routine changes, give your child a warning and explain any differences, e.g. we will be going out to the childminder in five minutes, allow them time to understand what is happening next.

There many similarities between starting a childcare setting and starting school, and you can find out more about managing transitions to school here